“Suenos. Dulces Suenos.
He must be painting upstairs.
I can feel it.
I remember when his father was just a baby and I called her Mama for the first time and she became Mama for all of us; Mama de la casa and his father would wake up in the middle of the night and scream in his crib and nothing would make him stop, nada, and Mama would get so exhausted she would turn her back to me and cry in her pillow.
I would smooth her hair-it was black, Basilio, as black as an olive-and I would turn on the radio (electricity, Basilio, in the middle of the night), to maybe calm the baby and listen to something besides the screaming.
Mama liked the radio, Basilio, and we listened while your father cried-cantante negra, cantante de almas azules-and it made us feel a little better, helped us make it through.
I had to get up early to catch the streetcar to the shipyard, but when the crying finally stopped sometimes the sun would be ready to pop and Mama's breathing would slow down and her shoulders would move like gentle waves, sleeping but still listening, like I can hear her now on this good bed, and Basilio-Mira, hombre, I will not tell you this again-if I moved very close and kissed her shoulders, she would turn to face me and we would have to be quiet Basilio, under the music, very, very quiet....
So this I want to know, Basilio.
This, if you want to live on Macon Street for another minute.
Can you paint an apple baked soft in the oven, an apple filled with cinnamon and raisins?
Can you paint such a woman?
Are you good enough yet with those brushes so that she will step out of your pictures to turn on the radio in the middle of the night?
Will she visit an old man on his death bed?
If you cannot do that, Basilio, there is no need for you to live here anymore.”


Rafael Alvarez
tags: sentiment
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